Motor City Masters is TRUTV’s Newest Biggest Loser [Review]

TRUTV's Motor City Masters
TRUTV’s Motor City Masters

Watching TRUTV’s newest car show Motor City Masters, I couldn’t help but feel that the everyone in the cast would rather have been someplace else besides LA taping this formulaic reality show.

Let’s start with the name. You’d think that a show about Detroit and Chevy would be filmed in the Motor City, but instead we’re treated to yet another LA based reality show that completely misses out on the vibe that is today’s re-surging Detroit. Instead, we’re forced to endure the compulsory shots of LA sunsets, LA landmarks and LA blah blah blah.

Where is the gritty Motor City that forged and designed some of America’s most iconic cars?

That’s just one of the questions that remains unanswered by this one hour GM TV commercial pretending to shed light on the car design process.

The other questions that spring to mind after watching the very first episode include:

1) Where’s the character development? It is hard to near impossible to like or even cheer for designers we don’t get to know.

2) Why does the show’s host, Brooke Burns, seemingly know nothing about car design? The former Bay Watch actress lends little in terms of car expertise, but much in terms of eye candy.

3) Why didn’t the advertising experts at GM see that such heavy-handed product placement turns an hour-long reality show into a tedious and counter-productive car commercial?

Former Automobile Magazine Editor Jean Jennings is a judge on Motor City Masters
Former Automobile Magazine Editor-in-Chief Jean Jennings is a judge on Motor City Masters

4) And why is Automobile Magazine‘s former Editor-in-Chief, Jean Jennings, channeling her inner Lisa Simpson?

The show’s plot revolves around a design competition that features, you guessed it, a GM car and 10 car designers who are forced to work together in dysfunctional teams. Ten designers enter the reality show meat grinder, but only one is left standing to win $100K and the dubious distinction of being the least likable car designer in the biz.

And that’s really the heart of the problem with the show. None of the cast members (or are they contestants) are very likable or interesting, at least as presented by the  show’s limited screen time. They just bicker and snipe at each other like old married couples. Think of Motor City Masters as the poorly executed car designer equivalent of The Biggest Loser with a different struggling car designer being sent home each week.

A rare glimpse of design professionalism in this maddening muddle of stern cutaways and dramatic music is German born design judge Harald Belker. Belker actually seems to understand automotive design and when he speaks about the two teams’ cars toward the end of the episode, we actually get a real glimpse into the fascinating job that must be real-world car design.

From Junk Yard Wars to Monster Garage to Wheeler Dealers, I will eagerly watch almost any show that has to do with cars, but even I have a limit. Motor City Masters not only exceeds that limit but tears past it in a cloud of high octane reality dribble.

At the end of the show, one contestant (or is it cast member) is left standing and will win a $100K and a new Chevy Camaro.

Surprise, surprise, surprise!

Each week the judges pick the best car design and decide who goes home and who must stay. Perhaps a more appropriate approach to the critical last 5 minutes of the show would have been to weigh the designer built cars and send home the team with the heaviest car. Because unlike The Biggest Loser which mostly captures the heart, soul, and sweat struggle that is serious weight loss, in Motor City Masters, the biggest loser is most certainly the viewer.

You can watch the entire first episode of Motor City Masters below: